There are a lot of reasons why people like astronomy. For some, it's the topics it covers like black holes, exploded stars, and distant planets. For others, it's the sense of awe that the cosmos inspires. There are also lots of people that just think the images are beautiful and worth gazing at. And, for most, it’s some combination of these and others that make them want to learn more about astronomy.
This week, astronomers have gathered in the balmy city of Miami for the 216th meeting of the American Astronomical Society meeting. There are some interesting Chandra results – the new image of N49 and the latest on the black hole in Andromeda – but so much more. There has been news on the latest from the WISE mission, new stuff on exoplanets, some spectacular images and movies of the Sun from the Solar Dynamics Observatory – and that's just the first two days. Keep an eye on your favorite astronomy news website for the latest.
Since the dawn of the Internet, there have been countless things that have come and gone. To some of them, we can easily say good riddance (flashing rainbow icons? the used-to-death phrase of the "information superhighway"?)
In other words, not many vestiges of the Internet circa 1996 remain, but one important one does: the Webby awards. Presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the Webbies are still one of the most prestigious digital awards around.
The good folks over at Cosmic Variance have blogged about a "Sports Science" segment that analyzes how well (and accurately) the New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees throws the football. There's a little discussion about whether or not Brees is more accurate than an Olympic archer, but what caught our eyes and ears was the spin rate of the football they estimate Brees gives the ball.
When we get to this point in the calendar, the "year in review of fill-in-the-blank" lists just come out in droves. You can't seem to drive to the mall without running over a "best of 2009" compendium of something or other. It's as if we have all had collective amnesia over the past 12 months and are required to be subjected to a crash review course of the year that was.
John Scott is a mission planner for Chandraâ€™s Flight Operation Team, and from time to time provides an inside look for the outside world on just how people take care of this remarkable spacecraft. This entry has a bit of a mystery in the second half of the title. If you have a guess to what it means to "Preheat at 90 for 15 minutes," then post it to the comment section. (Note to the rest of the Flight Ops Team: you're not eligible!) If someone comes up with the right answer â€“ or close to it â€“ weâ€™ll send you a Chandra poster.
As most of the nation will spend the Thanksgiving holiday devouring a stuffed turkey in the warmth of their dining room, the Chandra X-ray Observatory will give thanks for the three batteries that will keep it powered during the first day of its 22nd eclipse season. With only three and a half weeks of eclipses (eight eclipses total), this season will be brief when compared to the upcoming eclipse seasons in the following few years.
This week, the United States marks the Thanksgiving holiday. For most of us, this means lots of time with family (sometimes too much), friends, and vast amounts of food. It also causes all productivity to cease anywhere close to Thursday and the days that follow. That said, however, science and space never sleep â€“ not even from an overdose of tryptophan.
As the Chandra Source Catalog was being finalized for release (documents updated, final verifications being performed, etc.) we had some time to try a little experiment:
As part of the Catalog, we produce so-called "3-color" JPEG images: red representing low energy, green = medium energy, and blue = high energy. We thought it would be interesting to learn enough of the Keyhole Markup Language (kml) to enable these images to be viewed with Google Earth in its Sky mode.
From time to time in the Chandra blog, we like to give a look at the behind the scenes of how things really work around here. As you may suspect, it takes a lot of effort from many, many people to make this mission a success. One area we haven't delved into too much yet is the "data analysis" and other herculean efforts that are required to make the Chandra data as useful and user-friendly as possible to the scientific community.
Yesterday, the Nobel Prize for Physics was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. As they often do, the Academy split the prize, with one half being shared by two scientists - William S. Boyle and George E. Smith - for their work on CCD sensors.
William S. Boyle (left) and George E. Smith in a shot taken in 1974.
© Alcatel-Lucent/Bell Labs
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